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About Our School

Meet your Administrators

Alex O'Dell, Principal

Alex O'Dell, Principal

My career in education began in 1992 after working for several years in the construction industry. I became a teacher to help students who struggled to believe they could achieve by helping them learn to overcome their struggles.

Jessie Beard, Assistant Principal

Jessie Beard, Assistant Principal

I am a Virginia native who was born in Virginia Beach in 1968. My parents were recent graduates from pharmacy school in Richmond, and by the time I was two, they moved to Floyd County in the southwestern part of the state. At the age of five, they moved one more time to Christiansburg, Virginia, and this is the town I called home for nearly two decades. It was there, in the Blue Ridge Mountains, I discovered that I loved to learn. 

After graduating from Christiansburg High School, I earned my Bachelor of Arts degree in Education from Virginia Tech. In 1991, I married my best friend, Randy Beard, and I got my first teaching job at Marshall Middle School in Fauquier County. I was hired to teach 7th grade English and 8th grade Pre-Algebra. Over the next 12 years, I continued to work with 7th and 8th graders, and I pursued many learning opportunities at the University of Virginia and George Mason University. I was teaching Algebra I and Geometry when I was presented with an opportunity to work with Gifted and Talented students at C. Hunter Ritchie Elementary School. It was during this time I earned a Master’s of Science in Reading and Literacy with two other teachers from Ritchie. After five years at the elementary level, I went back to Marshall Middle School and remained there until 2020. By 2010, I had completed a certification program in Educational Leadership at Mary Washington University. For nearly two years, I drove past Mary Walter twice a week. Little did I know I was to be interviewed for the Assistant Principal position at Mary Walter In February of 2020, just before the COVID shut-down. I was hired and began the 2020-2021 School Year, never imagining how COVID would alter the way teaching and learning would take place for the next 4 years.

My husband and I moved to Fauquier County almost 18 years ago, and it is here we have raised three beautiful children: Douglas who is almost 30 years old, Caroline who is 26, and Lyle who is 19. They were all educated in Fauquier County Public Schools, and I think of them daily as I consider the children I work with at Mary Walter. I ask myself everyday, “Are you helping to create a school you would be happy to send your own children?” I enjoy working and serving the southern end of our county. Mary Walter is a special place, full of extraordinary people. I feel truly fortunate to be amongst you.

History of Mary Walter Elementary School


Mary Virginia Walter was an amazing educator who was born in 1900. When she was in first grade, she walked to and from school in the community of Lois. By the age of 18, she was a teacher in Greenwich in Prince William County. She also taught in Nokesville and Southampton County. In Fauquier County, she taught in Lois, Sumerduck, and Goldvein. She often commuted to work in a horse and buggy.

She earned her Bachelor’s of Science degree and a Master of Arts degree from the University of Virginia. She spent 52 years in the classroom, 49 as an elementary teacher, and the last three years as an eighth grade teacher. By the time she retired in 1970, Mary Walter was a published poet, an accomplished pianist, and an artist. She directed and produced musical programs, raised chickens, and had a dog she loved very much later in her life. In 1979, Fauquier County honored her many years of service by naming a new school located in Morrisville for her. 


“Helping Hands”

Mary Virginia Walter


Offering a hand of comfort

To those along the way

Who meet misfortune as they go

Down life’s rugged highway,

I meet so many people

And learn from every one

Lessons strong and useful

Before the day is done.